Minor 2nd Intervals: A Music Theory and Ear Training Guide

By Jade Bultitude
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Intervals are a fundamental building block of music theory and they play a significant role in shaping melodies, harmonies, and musical progressions. Understanding Minor 2nd intervals with allow you deepen your understanding use scales and harmony. So whether you’re a budding musician, a music student, or simply curious about music theory, understanding minor 2nd intervals is essential for expanding your musical vocabulary.

In this article, we’ll explore the characteristics of the Minor 2nd interval, give you examples to listen to and help you recognise it by ear.

minor 2nd interval, C to C sharp

Minor 2nd Interval Songs

Here are some famous examples of minor 2nd intervals. There really are too many to choose from as any two notes that are a half-step (semitone) apart are classified as a Minor 2nd. 

‘Jaws’ John Williams

Two bass notes, a minor 2nd, and such dread created with this famous sequence. The E natural to F natural is a Minor 2nd.

jaws theme minor 2nd interval

‘She will Be loved’ – Maroon 5

The Minor 2nd appear in the line ‘I don’t mind spending every day’. The D natural to E flat is a half-step or semitone.

maroon 5 minor 2nd interval

‘Isn’t She Lovely’ – Stevie Wonder

The ‘Isn’t she’ part of ‘Isn’t she lovely’ contains a G# to A interval that is a Minor 2nd.

isn't she lovely stevie wonder minor 2nd interval

What is a Minor 2nd Interval?

Firstly, the definition of an interval is the distance between two notes. We could play the notes at the same time, a harmonic interval, or one of the other, a melodic interval. So how can we describe the distance between two notes.

harmonic and melodic intervals

Using whole steps and half-steps (tones and semitones)

We could describe an interval in terms of the number of half-steps for the lower note to the upper note. For a minor 2nd we have to go up one half-steps to create the interval.

minor 2nd intervals on piano

Using scales to name intervals

Simply put scales are patterns of half-steps and whole-steps. In the major scale, the 4th degree will be a half-step above the 3rd degree. The 7th to the root are also a half-step apart. These intervals are therefore called a Minor 2nd.

f major scale with minor 2nds labelled

One thing to be careful of is assuming that the 1st-2nd notes of a Minor scale will be a Minor 2nd. This not the case, in fact the first two notes of a minor scale are actually a MAJOR 2nd apart from one another. You can see this in the example below in A Minor.

a natural minor scale with major 2nd labelled

There are actually no Minor 2nd intervals in the natural minor scale, which seems odd. However, a minor interval is called minor because it is a half-step smaller in size than a major intervals. With this definition of a minor interval you will not get confused between minor scales and minor intervals.

Ear Training and Intervals

To develop as a musician you’ll want to be able to recognise intervals by ear. This is where ear training comes in, as the more you practice, the better your’ll get.

My recommendation for this is Tonegym as they have a comprehensive and fun program for training your ears. It’s what has gotten the best results with for my own students.

In the ‘tools’ section of their site, Tonegym even have an interval memorizer that allows you to learn every type of interval.

For an in-depth look at ear training, here’s my full review of Tonegym.

departurer opt tonegym

Examples of Minor 2nd Intervals

Here is a table which shows Minor 2nd intervals across a whole octave.

ascending minor 2dn intervals copy
descending minor 2nd intervals copy

Minor 2nd Interval Qualities

We can describe the sound of intervals using a numbers of adjectives. An interval can sound ‘stable’ or ‘grounded’ like a perfect 5th, or it could sound ‘dissident’, ‘neutral’ or even ‘sinister’.

A minor 2nd interval, often described as dissonant and tense, gives the listen a sense of unease and anticipation. It is characterized by its close proximity and tight dissonance, creating an unstable and restless sensation.

When heard, it can spark a feeling of tension, as if two musical notes are yearning to resolve into a more harmonious state. It adds an intriguing and dramatic element to music, leaving listeners on the edge of their seats, awaiting the resolution to restore stability and consonance.

How to Identify Minor 2nd Intervals by Ear

The best way to start identifying Minor 2nd intervals is by listening to reference songs like the ones above. This will give you a reference point to look back at when listening to new pieces.

For an addition reference piece, listen to the start of ‘Fur Elise’ by Beethoven. The alternating between the E and D# is a Minor 2nd interval as these notes are a semitone apart (half-step).

fur elise minor 2nd example copy

ToneGym- The Ultimate Ear Training App

ToneGym allows you to improve your ear with a range of games, interactive and competitions.

Or check out our complete review of ToneGym.

ToneGym, three dashboards, computer

Play Minor 2nd Intervals on Your Instrument

If you are a pianist then playing a minor 2nd couldn’t be easier. Moving up one key (or one half-step) will give you a Minor 2nd from your starting note. Check out the example below.

minor 2nd interval on piano

Minor 2nd intervals on guitar are also simply to play. Fret any note and then play the note one fret up. This will create a Minor 2nd interval. See the examples below.

minor 2nd intervals on guitar

Minor 2nd Intervals and the Chromatic Scale

The chromatic scale is a great example of a scale completely made up of minor 2nd intervals. For more check out our Chromatic Scale Guide.

ascending chromatic melody and descending chromatic melody

What’s next….?

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Jade is an experienced musician and teacher as well as being the founder of Music Theory Foundations. She has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.